Immigration to drive Canada’s population growth as global birth rates fall

Shelby Thevenot
Published: July 19, 2020

Canada will need to keep immigration as a priority to remain competitive in the global economy at the end of the century, a new study suggests.

The study by The Lancet forecasts a global population decline starting in the late 21st century. They suggest that the world population will peak at 9.73 billion in 2064 and will decline to 8.79 billion by the year 2100.

The study’s researchers expect Canada’s population to peak at 45.2 million in 2078 and fall to 44.1 million in 2100. However, this is much more conservative than the Conference Board of Canada’s forecast from 2018, which suggested that Canada’s population would reach 45 million by 2040 should immigration levels reach one per cent of the country’s population per year. It also suggested that Canada’s population growth would depend entirely on immigration by 2030.

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Most of Canada’s population growth is already driven by immigration. In 2019, about 82 per cent of the population growth came from the arrival of immigrants, and about 18 per cent came from new births, a number which is decreasing every year according to Statistics Canada.

“For high-income countries with fertility rates lower than the replacement level, the most immediate solution is liberal immigration policies,” the Lancet researchers wrote.

Canada saw the highest net immigration rates in the study, along with Turkey and Sweden. Should Canada’s openness to immigration continue, the research shows that sustained population growth and workforce expansion will accompany economic growth.

By 2030, Canada is expected to replace Russia as the tenth-largest economy in the world and maintain that ranking through the rest of the century. Since Canada is expected to maintain a strong GDP over the next century it is also expected to hold on to geopolitical power by sustaining its working-age population through immigration.

“The optimal strategy for economic growth, fiscal stability, and geopolitical security is liberal immigration with effective assimilation into these societies,” the study says.

Researchers concluded that once population decline begins it is not likely to stop by the end of the century. In spite of this, Canada is one of the countries expected to sustain its population thorough liberal immigration policies and social policies that are more supportive of women working and having control over their reproductive rights. This is also likely to cause Canada to have a larger overall GDP, with the various social, economic and geopolitical benefits that come with having a stable working-age population.

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